Sauk County looking to redistribute housing grant funds

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

Sauk County Board members applaud county staff and employees at the Dec. 15 board meeting. 

The Sauk County Board is forced to reevaluate its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding allotment after developers of a low-to-medium income apartment development in Reedsburg pulled out of the project. 

The county had allotted approximately $280,000 in CDBG to assist Common Wealth Corporation of America, a developer out of Fond du Lac, to renovate the former South Elementary School in Reedsburg to become workforce and senior housing for low-income residents. 

County Board Chairmen Tim McCumber, of Merrimac, reported at the board’s Dec. 15 meeting that developers  were unable to follow through on the housing development, leaving the funds up for grabs. 

The county is required to allot the funding by Jan. 1, or it will be returned to the state funding pool, leaving 16 days from Tuesday’s meeting to find a use for the funds. 

McCumber said he, Supervisor Wally Czyupryko, of Lake Delton, and Community Coordinator Jared Pinkus have met with representatives in Sauk City to determine if Jaycee Park would be an eligible candidate. The county has also met with representatives in Lake Delton regarding a senior housing development being constructed there, and have met with representatives from Plain regarding a new housing development in the village. 

The Reedsburg project was expected to redevelop the former elementary school into 48 affordable housing units, ranging from one to three bedroom options, with rent between $320-$923. 

While the county was planning to provide almost $284,000, the developer would have contributed $480,000. 

Funding requests 

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved two resolutions requesting additional funding for county agencies in the upcoming biennial state budget. 

The board unanimously approved a resolution in support of an additional $27.4 million to be added to the budget to fund county and tribal Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC). 

“This is just letting the state know we want more funding for our ADRC,” said Supervisor Dennis Polivka, of Spring Green. 

The resolution also supported changes to the distribution for ADRC funding, such as distributing funding based on ADRC establishment date, adjusting funding on need basis, or adjust for cost of living increases. 

Sauk County belongs to the Eagle Country ADRC, which includes Juneau, Richland and Crawford counties. It is one of 12 multi-county ADRC’s in the state, along with 34 single-county ADRC’s and seven tribal ADRC’s. 

ADRC director, Susan Blogdett said state funding for ADRC’s has been stagnant since 2008, and if the state allocates additional funding to the agencies, the county could receive and additional $200,000 in annual funding. 

In addition to a resolution supporting additional state funding, the county passed a resolution extending its contract with The Shed in Spring Green to continue providing congregate meals for the senior meal program. 

“The citizens, the elderly down there really enjoy these meals and the opportunity to get together, once we are able to do that again,” said Polivka. 

The county unanimously passed a similar ordinance supporting an additional $4 million designated for Child Support Agencies in the state, each fiscal year of the 2021-23 budget. 

Hiring Process

Brent Miller, the County Administrator reported the county is at the final steps of hiring a Public Health Officer, following the resignation of former Health Officer Tim Lawther in October. Miller said the hiring of a candidate is dependent on a background check. 

According to Miller and the Wisconsin Counties Association, Sauk County is one of 11 other counties currently going through a hiring process for the same position. 

“So we are battling with other counties in the state right now to fill that position,” said Miller. 

McCumber took time to thank and provide support to county staff during a less than normal year. 

“As we wrap up this season, it’s been a unique year to say the least, I just want to state that I am very very proud of all of our staff in the county,” said McCumber.